Subscribe options

Select your newsletters:

Please enter your email address:

@

Your email address will only be used for the purpose of sending you the ITER Organization publication(s) that you have requested. ITER Organization will not transfer your email address or other personal data to any other party or use it for commercial purposes.

If you change your mind, you can easily unsubscribe by clicking the unsubscribe option at the bottom of an email you've received from ITER Organization.

For more information, see our Privacy policy.

News & Media

Latest ITER Newsline

  • Cryostat thermal shield | A "strong back" for a fragile component

    The lower cylinder thermal shield is a large silver-plated component, circular in shape and five metres tall, which fits inside the depression in the cryostat b [...]

    Read more

  • Diagnostic shielding | B4C ceramic bricks prove their worth

    A number of materials can effectively shield diagnostic equipment from the neutron flux coming from the plasma. To find the best one, the diagnostics team at IT [...]

    Read more

  • Image of the week | The cryostat top lid, batch after batch

    Batch after batch, the elements for the top lid of the ITER cryostat keep arriving from India. As of today, 7 out of the 12 required segments have been delivere [...]

    Read more

  • Cooling water system | The tanks within a tank

    Deep inside the bowels of the Tokamak Building, the entrance to one of most spectacular rooms of the whole installation resembles that of a broom cupboard. [...]

    Read more

  • ITER assembly | Last major assembly contract signed

    One year after finalizing two major machine assembly contracts, the ITER Organization has chosen the contractors who will carry out assembly and installation ac [...]

    Read more

Of Interest

See archived entries

The dream of his life

Trained at the University of Milan, Italian-born Umberto Finzi (right) headed the European Fusion Programme from 1996 to 2004 and played a key role in the negotiations that led to building ITER in Europe. He is pictured here at ITER with long-time acquaintance Jean Jacquinot, former director of JET. (Click to view larger version...)
Trained at the University of Milan, Italian-born Umberto Finzi (right) headed the European Fusion Programme from 1996 to 2004 and played a key role in the negotiations that led to building ITER in Europe. He is pictured here at ITER with long-time acquaintance Jean Jacquinot, former director of JET.
ITER owes much to a few. At different moments in the history (and prehistory!) of the project, a handful of individuals made moves that were to prove decisive. Among this band of godfathers—whether scientists, politicians, diplomats or senior bureaucrats—Umberto Finzi stands prominently.

Finzi, who retired from the European Commission in 2004 but continued to advise the Director General of Research until the conclusion of the ITER negotiations in 2006, belongs to the generation who embraced fusion research in the early 1960s at a time when plasma physics was still in its infancy.

A physicist turned bureaucrat—he was called to Brussels to take care of setting up JET in 1978 and was appointed Head of the European Fusion Programme in 1996—Finzi played a key role in the negotiations that led to building ITER in Europe. An ITER godfather in his own right, he nevertheless insists on the "collective action" that, under four successive European presidencies, led to this decision.

Time has passed. The "paper project" whose roots go back to the late 1970s, years before the seminal 1985 Reagan-Gorbatchev summit  in Geneva, is now a reality, as tangible as it is spectacular. When he toured the ITER worksite on 30 July, Umberto Finzi took the full measure of the progress accomplished since his last visit in 2006, when all there was to see was a hilly, wooded landscape and a high pole marking the future location of the Tokamak.

"During most of my professional life," he said, "ITER was a dream. You can imagine my emotion seeing these tons of steel and concrete. This reminds me of the famous message by Hergé¹ to Neil Armstrong: "By believing in his dreams, man turns them into reality." 

"ITER is a difficult venture," he added, "and difficult ventures requiretime and patience. The effort is not only scientific or technological. It lies also, and maybe essentially, in the planning and coordination."

ITER, with 35 participating nations, could have been a Tower of Babel. "On the contrary," says Finzi, "it is the exact opposite of a Tower of Babel, a beautiful demonstration of worldwide understanding. No project has ever associated so many different nations. To me, this is the most important aspect of ITER, a historical dimension that reaches beyond the project's scientific and technological objectives."

(1) Hergé (1907-1983) was a Belgian cartoonist, creator of the world-famous characters Tintin and Snowy. Between 1930 and 1986, Hergé published 23 albums of The Adventures of Tintin, selling a total of 200 million copies in 70 languages. Fifteen years before Neil Armstrong, Tintin, Snowy and other recurrent characters in the series walked on the Moon in the 1954 album "Explorers on the Moon."


return to the latest published articles